5 Large Structures That Have Been Moved Short Distances

I was driving around my neighborhood recently and discovered this creepy looking house that the city is getting ready to move across town. Still not exactly sure why (seems demolishing it would be better), but it got me thinking: what other big structures have been moved and why? Here are five that have interesting histories.

1. Belle Tout Lighthouse


Built in the early 1800s and located in Beachy Head, East Sussex, the Belle Tout Lighthouse was moved 56 feet in 1999 as a retreating coastline threatened its existence. The 850-ton landmark was moved using hydraulic jacks that pushed the lighthouse along four beams that were lubricated with grease.

Lighthouse fun fact: Early lighthouses like these that were built before electricity, relied on oil lamps to guide the ships. The Belle Tout Lighthouse had so many lamps, it went through 2 gallons of oil every hour.

2. Empire Theater

The revitalization of Time Square and 42nd Street in New York City during the 1990s (some called it the Disneyfication) was in full swing when the 7.4 million pound Empire Theater was rolled down the block to its current home. Traveling less than a foot per minute along eight rails (sort of like a train, if you can picture that), the theater was successfully moved 168 feet over the course of four hours. The 86-year-old former burlesque house was moved to clear the way for a 25-screen movie theater, the biggest in the country at the time.

Speaking of big:
the Empire is considered the biggest structure ever moved in New York City.

3. Brown University's Peter Green House

greenhouseA few years ago at Brown University, a 300-ton house built in 1868 was moved 450 feet to make way for a series of linked green spaces and walkways. The house, which is used by the department of history, was moved over a 3-day period and also rotated 90 degrees in the process.

How now Brown cow?
In its nearly 250-year history, Brown has relocated 26 buildings around campus!

4. Abu Simbel


Pharaoh Ramesses II had these magnificent temples built in the 13th century BC to commemorate an alleged victory in battle. But more than three thousand years later, in 1964, they had to be cut into pieces and moved 65 meters up to higher ground to avoid flooding from construction of a nearby dam along the banks of the Nile River.

Let my temple go, already
: It took 4 years to dismember the temples, number the pieces, and then reconstruct everything up at the new site.

5. Floating Church of the Redeemer

floatingBuilt in Bordentown, NJ in 1847, the Floating Church of the Redeemer was towed along the Delaware some 40 miles to the Dock Street wharf in Philadelphia. When they lost their lease a few years later, the church floated back across the river to Camden, NJ, where it was rolled on wooden columns to a nearby lot.

A not-so-merry Christmas: Several years after it dropped anchor in Camden, the church was destroyed by fire on Christmas morning.




The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.


More from mental floss studios